As a Metro Atlanta bus accident attorney, I was saddened to hear of a Sept. 15 accident in which a school bus fatally hit a five-year-old child. Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA reported Oct. 5 on a bond hearing in the case for bus driver Sharon Dale. Dale is charged with second-degree homicide, failure to use due regard and violating procedures for school bus drivers in the incident that killed kindergartener Everett Johnson in northwest Atlanta. The hearing, which was attended by a group of Dale’s colleagues, ended with Dale’s release on a signature bond. She is suspended from her job with pay until the outcome of the trial.
According to the article, the accident happened shortly after Johnson and six other students got off the bus. Johnson reportedly fell behind the pack because he had dropped his book bag. When he bent over to retrieve it, Dale allegedly couldn’t see him and tried to pull the bus away from the curb. Dale was reportedly so distraught that police waited a day to interview her. At the hearing, police officer Kim Jones testified that she climbed into the driver’s seat and found that it would have been impossible to see a bent-over child in the position Johnson had occupied. However, Fulton County prosecutor Richard Elliott argued that Dale had a responsibility to adjust the mirrors for full visibility. Jones testified that she observed nothing wrong with the mirrors.
My heart goes out to Johnson’s family. As his grandmother observed in the article, no amount of legal maneuvers can reverse this terrible accident. But as a Gwinnett County bus accident lawyer, I am very interested in what bus manufacturers and bus drivers can learn from the tragedy. Dale may be guilty of extreme carelessness if, as Elliott suggested, adjusting the mirrors correctly would have helped her see Johnson. If that’s the case, Dale, and perhaps also her employer, would be liable for her negligence in any lawsuit the Johnson family chooses to file. However, if it’s not possible to adjust the mirrors to remove every blind spot from the driver’s view, the negligence may more properly lie with the manufacturer of the bus. In that case, it would be the manufacturer who would be liable for the wrongful death.
Serving Metro Atlanta and all of Georgia, the Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle represents victims of serious injuries and families who have lost a loved one through someone else’s negligence. Attorney Charles Scholle has been a Georgia bus accident attorney since 1995, so he understands that families face serious medical, emotional and financial burdens after a serious accident. Our job is to help ease those burdens by holding wrongdoers responsible for their actions and securing the money families need to pay accident-related costs. In a wrongful death lawsuit, families can claim compensation for all of the bills related to the accident, including hospitalization and funeral costs, as well as compensation for the loss of a loved one taken too soon.
If you have suffered catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one through no fault of your own, and you’re not sure what to do next, the Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle would like to help. To tell an experienced attorney about your case and discuss your legal options, please contact us through the Internet or call toll-free at 1-866-972-5287.